After a couple of down week’s for the NFL’s quarterbacks where pretty much every metric was well off the pace of earlier in the season, Week 16 saw a return to form and some strong numbers in terms of yards, touchdowns and overall QB Index rating. The average rating for Week 16 was 53.7%, up over 8% from Week 15 (45.5%) and that gives a season to date average rating of 52.7%, up 3.5% on 2017 (49.2%).
The top rated passer of Week 16 came from the arm of Nick Foles, who put the Eagles on his back and led them to victory over the Texans and still with a shot of making the playoffs. His 83.3% rating was his best regular season rating in over two years (when he was with the Chiefs), and over five years since his best performance with the Eagles (94.7% vs Oakland, week 9 2013).
It was also a strong week for Kirk Cousins, who finished second in Week 16 with a 80.3% rating, his best of 2018. Cousins’ numbers and QB index ratings have been up and down this season, but his season to date rating of 58.5% is ahead of Case Keenum’s 58.2% through Week 16 last season. Cousins has thrown for 800 more yards and 8 more touchdowns (in one more game), with a completion rate above 70% and he has had to contend with a rushing attack that has managed 400 fewer yards and an o-line that has combined with Cousins to concede 16 more sacks. The Vikings much vaunted defense has also allowed 75 more points, including 8 more touchdowns, adding to the pressure put on Cousins this season.
Like Cousins, Sam Darnold also played his best game of 2018, posting a 78.8% rating as he went toe to toe with Aaron Rodgers (60.6%). Darnold had a league high 9.7 yards per attempt in Week 16, another one of his bests as a rookie. Rodgers, it should be noted, put up the fantasy performance everyone has been waiting for, posting 42.88 points in the Packers’ narrow victory, the second highest of any quarterback this season (Mitchell Trubisky 43.46, Week 4 vs Tampa Bay). As well as passing for 442 yards and throwing 2 touchdown passes, Rodgers ran for 2 scores and ran in a 2 point conversion to seal the win for the Packers
At the bottom end, it was a bad week for MVP candidate Philip Rivers, who was left dazed and confused by the surging Baltimore defense, and posted an 18.2% rating, by far his worst outing of 2018. Rivers had posted at least a 50% rating in each of his previous 16 starts dating back to last season. It was the fifth lowest rating of his career, and his lowest since 2014 (16.7% vs Miami, Week 9). He remains in third place overall and though he can mathematically still finish first, it would take a massive capitulation from Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees, as well as a perfect game from himself to overhaul the MVP favorites.
Alongside Rivers, Tom Brady also put in one of his worst ratings of his career, with a 24.2% rating as the Patriots sealed the AFC East for the 10th straight season in beating the Bills. Brady, who finished 3rd in the QB index in 2017 with a 60.6% rating, sits 16th in 2018, though his rating has only dropped back by three percentage points (57.1%), which highlights how much stronger QB play has been in 2018. If Brady finishes with this rating, it would be his lowest rating since 2014 (55.7%), when the Patriots went on to win Super Bowl XLIX.
QB Index Ratings - Week 16
QB Index Ratings - 2018 Season to Date (min 100 attempts)
In the overall race to be the winner of the 2018 QB Index, and with Philip Rivers now realistically out of contention, its down to Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees to fight it out for the title. For Brees to overhaul Mahomes, he will need to finish with a rating 20% higher in Week 17, a tough ask as the Saints are favorites to be the team to rest the most starters after they secured home field advantage in the NFC playoffs last week. Give Mahomes some credit, he has only one rating in 2018 below 50% (45.5%, week 5 vs Jaguars) and with the no.1 seed in the AFC secured with a victory, he will be going all out to put the Chiefs in prime position heading into the playoffs. Plus he’s facing the Raiders at home, a team he posted a 72.7% rating against in Week 13 in Oakland.
At the bottom, Josh McCown has sewn up last place ahead of Josh Rosen and the newly benched Cody Kessler. To be fair to McCown, he was never meant to play in 2018, but QB Index ratings of 7.6%, 39.4% and 22.7% as a starter and 3 defeats was never going to get the job done when he stepped in for Sam Darnold when he went down with injury.